Baggies interested in Gardner

The former Birmingham player has been suffering from

homesickness after moving to the North East last summer and reports

have also suggested Wolves are considering a bid.

Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill said earlier this week he

hoped Gardner, who was signed by Steve Bruce, would stay given his

recent form for the resurgent Black Cats.

But transfer talk is gathering momentum and Hodgson is

considering the 25-year-old as a possible solution to his

injury-ravaged squad.

The West Brom boss said in the Daily Mirror: “He is a very good

player, so obviously someone like Craig Gardner becoming available

will alert the Midlands clubs or clubs in the near vicinity.

“But it will be a question of price and if there are clubs who

think they can afford him.

“I don’t think clubs will say, ‘he is no good, we don’t want

him’.”

Meanwhile, O’Neill has continued his praise of young left winger

James McClean, who has emerged as a star in the making after his

full debut in the win over Manchester City on New Year’s Day before

then scoring against Wigan.

O’Neill said of his fellow Ulsterman: “His emergence has helped

enormously. He has the potential to make the position his own.

“I can’t think of anyone who has had that sort of impact. He had

a great debut against Manchester City, but then he delivered the

way he did against Wigan 48 hours later, when he scored. I was

expecting him to tire, but he was so strong.

“Is he a special talent or surprise package? There might be a

bit of both attached to that. I didn’t know anything about him. I

am delighted we managed to get him.”